It has been quite a summer in Pyongyang. Between July 4th, when it tested its first ICBM, and Labor Day weekend, when it detonated its sixth nuclear bomb — possibly a thermonuclear weapon — North Korea has presented the United States and the world with a new strategic reality. Pyongyang can use long-range missiles to reach almost any location in the United States, and likely has several dozen warheads. If it hasn’t fully miniaturized its nuclear capability yet, it is right on the cusp. And if its sixth nuclear test isn’t an H-bomb, it is least a boosted-fission weapon with the ability to devastate major cities. Observers should not cling hopefully to news of failed re-entry vehicles — North Korea is no longer a risible, rag-tag nuclear aspirant. For all intents and purposes, Pyongyang can hold much of the continental United States at risk and has functionally achieved a second-strike nuclear capability.
Read the full op-ed in War on the Rocks.